Discrimination and Harassment
The University of Kentucky is committed to maintaining an environment free of prohibited discrimination to foster an environment of respect for the dignity and worth of all University community members. Any member of the University of Kentucky community who believes they have experienced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation may bring their concerns to the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity (Institutional Equity). A staff member of Institutional Equity is available to provide information on the investigative and resolution process.
The Role of the Office for Institutional Equity in Responding to Reports and Complaints of Discrimination
Institutional Equity is responsible for upholding the University's commitment to equal opportunity for all members of the University's community in academic programs, research, service, and employment. Institutional Equity's function is to determine whether University policies or procedures regarding discrimination and harassment have been followed. Institutional Equity works to remedy the situation if policy violations are found and relieve the complainant of the burden forced on them by the inappropriate behavior.
Institutional Equity provides timely, sensitive, and discreet responses to complaints and reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Institutional Equityinvestigates complaints and reports thoroughly and impartially and works with University officials to arrive at an appropriate and equitable resolution.
Discrimination and Harassment Resolution Goals
- Provide timely, sensitive, and discreet responses to complaints and reports of discrimination, discriminatory harassment and retaliation.
- Investigate complaints and reports of discrimination thoroughly and impartially. Address problematic behavior through appropriate and equitable resolution.
- Work to improve the University's response to reports and complaints of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and retaliation.
Procedures for Allegations of Discrimination, Harassment and/or Retaliation Initial Report
A complaint of discrimination or harassment should be filed as soon as possible after the alleged discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory action. Anyone can initiate a complaint of discrimination or harassment by contacting any dean, director, faculty member, department head, manager, supervisor, or another individual with supervisory or administrative responsibility. Any such individual who receives a complaint of discrimination or harassment shall report that to Institutional Equity. Once Institutional Equity receives the complaint, an investigation will begin immediately.
After reviewing the initial report, Institutional Equity notifies departmental administrative authorities to make suitable arrangements to interview the complainant, respondent, and witnesses necessary to the investigation.
In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment, Institutional Equity considers the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances. Meaning the nature of the alleged conduct and the context in which the alleged conduct occurred will be examined and evaluated to determine whether the totality of the evidence created a violation of University policy.
If necessary, informal mediation may be recommended but not required for complaints to be fully processed. Mediation is not an option if the alleged conduct constitutes sexual assault.
Institutional Equity informs all parties involved in the investigation that retaliation against anyone making or participating in the investigation of a complaint is prohibited. If Institutional Equity finds retaliation has occurred, that may be grounds for immediate termination or expulsion even in the absence of a finding of discrimination.
Institutional Equity will complete the investigation in a timely manner after filing the complaint. The investigation period will vary as necessary for an equitable resolution of the situation.
Findings and Resolution
After all interviews are complete, Institutional Equity reviews the information to determine whether AR 6:1: Discrimination and Harassment Policy was violated. If there was a policy violation, the individual circumstances, including the severity of the violation, will influence the corrective action Institutional Equity recommends to the department.
Notification of the outcome of the complaint and the basis for the decision will be given to the parties involved in the investigation either orally or in writing. Institutional Equity notifies all parties involved in the investigation that information regarding the complaint, the investigation, and the disposition is to be kept private. The University will maintain the complainant’s privacy to the extent possible within the law. Institutional Equity will recommend the University take steps to prevent further harassment and to correct its effects, if appropriate.
Institutional Equity strives to complete investigations in a timely manner. However, the time required to complete the investigation will vary depending upon the individual circumstances of each complaint, as well as the nature and sufficiency of the information provided to Institutional Equity. Institutional Equity recognizes harassment and discrimination cause an interruption to the work and academic environment, and until there is a resolution, work performance and production may be impacted. Thus, Institutional Equity makes every effort to complete an investigation in a timely manner.
The University requests that all internal resources be exhausted before using external resources; however, at any time, an individual may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, Department of Labor, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Once an individual makes a complaint with an external agency, Institutional Equity will work directly with the agency to come to a resolution.